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BURTON AGNES: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1892.

Wapentake and Petty Sessional Divison of Dickering - County Council Electoral Division of Burton Agnes - Poor Law Union, County Court District, and Rural Deanery of Bridlington - Archdeaconry of the East Riding - Diocese of York.

This is a parish of considerable extent lying midway between Driffield and Bridlington. It includes the township of its own name, and also those of Gransmoor, Haisthorpe, and Thornholme, the united area of which is, according to the Ordnance Survey, 8,707 acres. The population in 1881 was 664, and in 1891,. 321. The surface is diversified, and the soil various, but chiefly loam, resting on gravel and chalk.

The township of Burton Agnes contains 2,575 acres, and is valued for rating purposes at £3,232. The population in 1881 was 342. Sir Henry S. Boynton, Bart., is lord of the manor and owner of nearly the whole of the land. This manor belonged, at an early period, to the Stutevilles, and from Agnes de Stuteville, wife of Herbert St. Quintin, and one of the sisters and co-heiresses of Anselm de Stuteville, it received the addendum Agnes, to distinguish it from other Burtons in the county. The manor was held of the fee of Brus, and in the time of Henry III., or soon after, it came into the possession of the Somervilles, a knightly race who distinguished themselves in the Scottish wars. About the middle of the fourteenth century it was carried, by the marriage of an heiress, to Sir Rees ap Griffith, a Welshman. It passed in the male line of this family through several generations, but eventually, in the early part of the seventeenth century, it was inherited by a female, Frances, sister and co-heir of Sir Henry Griffith. This lady married Sir Matthew Boynton, and thus conveyed Burton Agnes to that family.

The village is small but delightfully situated on the southern declivity of the Wolds, amidst a profusion of trees, which add their sylvan charms to the picturesque landscape. The yellow-washed houses, fronted by well-trimmed flower gardens, stand on either side of the high road, six miles south-west from Bridlington, and the same distance north-east from Driffield, About a quarter of a mile south is a station, on the Hull and Scarborough branch of the North-Eastern railway. In the centre of the village is a large pond, on which numbers of very fine ducks are kept. The church, dedicated to St. Martin, is an ancient and interesting edifice, originally erected in the Norman era, and still retaining some traces of the style of architecture which prevailed at that period. It comprises chancel, nave, north and south aisles, and a well proportioned western tower, embattled and pinnacled. The clerestory of the nave is also finished with battlements. There are four bells in the tower. The chancel was thoroughly restored and beautified by the late Archdeacon Wilberforce. The roof is of dark oak, and the stalls are of the same wood, and richly carved. The floor is laid with encaustic tiles, disposed in a beautiful design. An arcade of three pointed arches, with pillars alternately circular and octagonal, divides the nave from the aisles. Most of the windows are filled with stained glass. That in the west end exhibits the arms of the Boynton family. The east window was presented in 1844, by the late Rev. R. I. Wilberforce, and the same reverend gentleman, with a true sense of the sacredness of things consecrated to the service of God, restored the old Norman font, which had stood for many years in the vicarage garden, to its original place and purpose. The south aisle was built, or probably rebuilt, by Sir Roger Somerville, who founded within it a chantry chapel, which he endowed with two messuages, two oxgangs of land, 20 cart loads of turf yearly, and 16 acres of land in Thornholme, for the support of a chaplain to say mass for his own soul, and the souls of Maude, his wife, and of Sir Marmaduke Thweng and Peter de Brus. Here is the family vault, where lie many generations of the Somervilles, Griffiths, and Boyntons. In the chapel are four ancient monuments. The oldest is a table tomb, bearing the following modern inscription : - " Here lies Sir Roger Somervile, summoned to Parliament amongst the Barons of the realm in the 1st of Edward III., and died February, 1336. Also Sir Philip Somervile, his brother and heir, who departed this life the 23rd of January, 1354, possessed of this and several other manors; was succeeded by his daughter and granddaughter, viz., Joane, wife of Sir Rees ap Griffith, who died 8th October, 1377, at Stockton, in Warwickshire, and Maude, daughter of John Stafford, by Elizabeth, second daughter of the said Philip Somerville." Near this is a beautiful alabaster sarcophagus, in the elaborate style of the 15th century. On the dado are highly finished niches, seven on each side and two at each end, containing full length figures of saints, holding in their hands books and other canonical devices by which their identity was usually indicated. On the top of the tomb lie the full-length effigies of a knight in armour and his lady, the feet of the former resting on a dragon, and those of the latter on a small dog. The inscription is modern, and is to the memory of Sir Walter Griffith, Knight, who died August 9th, 1481, and Jane, his first wife, daughter of Sir Ralph Neville, by Mary, granddaughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. On the opposite side of the chapel is a beautiful but singular monument. It is an altar tomb, with two pillars of black marble supporting an entablature, on which are sculptured three shields of arms, skulls, cross-bones, &c. On the top of the tomb are three full-sized coffins of black marble, and behind them two figures holding a marble tablet, on which is inscribed, "This monument was erected in memory of Sir Henry Griffith, Bart., and his two wives, the one (as appears by the arms) a Willoughby, and the other a Bellingham." There are several beautiful monuments in the chancel to the Boyntons, and in the south aisle is the family pew. It is one of the old-fashioned style, and was built with a view to comfort, being provided with a fire-place and seats round three sides. It is ascended by two steps.

Torre, in his MS. speaking of this church, says "The church and tythes of Burton were given, by Gosfred Baynard, to the Abbay of St. Mary, York, and on the 2nd September, 1235, Walter, archbishop of York, confirmed the annual pension of 15 marks to - de Clavell, vicar of the church of Anne's, Burton, and to his successors. * Afterwards this church was appropriated to the Abbat and Convent of St. Maries, and a vicarage therein endowed, which belonged to the patronage of the Abbat, as also the rectory, till the dissolution of the monastery, when it was granted by the king, according to the authority of Parliament, to the Archbishop of York, and his successors, in exchange for other lands of his archbishopric." The living is now a rectory, united with Harpham, in the gift of John Denney, Esq., of Ulverston, and held by the Rev. John Denney, M.A., of St. John's College, Cambridge. The net value is £975, including 203 acres of glebe, with residence.

Archdeacon Wilberforce, by whom the chancel was restored about 50 years ago, was the second son of William Wilberforce, M.P. for Hull, through whose unceasing efforts the slave trade was abolished in the British colonies. The archdeacon was the author of several works now little known, the principal of which were "The Five Empires," and "Rutilius and Lucius, or Stories of the Third Age." His greatest work, however, jointly with his brother Samuel, afterwards Bishop of Oxford, was a life of his father, in five volumes.

The Wesleyans have a chapel in the village, built in 1837. The National School, with teacher's residence attached, was built by Sir H. Boynton, in 1871, and is endowed with £30 a year. There is accommodation for 140 children, and an average attendance of 60. A Reading Room, with library, was opened in 1886 for the use of the villagers. Here are also Almshouses for four poor widows, founded, in 1709, by the widow of W. Boynton, Esq. The inmates receive out of an endowment £8 4s. per annum, and a further sum of £2 16s. from Willerby Hagg's farm, in Kirk Ella parish.

BURTON AGNES HALL, the seat of Sir Henry Somerville Boynton, Bart., J.P., stands on an eminence facing the south, and commands an extensive prospect in that direction. It is one of the most princely mansions in the East Riding, and is a very fine specimen of Elizabethan architecture. It is a picturesque red brick structure, with stone dressings, flanked by octagonal bays, with mullioned windows. In the centre there is a profusion of carved stone work, representing shields of arms, termini and arabesque ornamentation. Above the principal entrance are the royal arms. The hall is said by Bigland to have been erected from the designs of Inigo Jones, but this assertion is open to some doubt. The saloon is covered with curious carvings in wood and alabaster, the subjects being chiefly scriptural.

This hall, like many other ancient buildings, has its ghost story, which, even yet, finds a few believers, though the superstition is fast disappearing before our 19th century enlightenment. The unearthly visitor is a lady, who is said to have been murdered, but when or by whom is not known. Her skull is, or was, long preserved on a table in one of the upper rooms. According to popular belief many attempts have been made to deposit it in a more appropriate resting place, but such noises were heard all over the house in the night time, that the inmates could not sleep till the sounds were hushed by restoring the ghastly object to its former position. There are many traditionary stories of these attempts to remove the skull, but we need only relate one. On a certain occasion some men were engaged in removing manure from the premises in a waggon, drawn by four horses; and one of the servants, thinking this a favourable opportunity for getting rid of the skull, threw it into the waggon, amongst the manure. When the waggon was filled, the horses, in spite of all the driver's whipping and coaxing, could not move the load. All their efforts were in vain; and the servant then confessed what she had done. The skull was taken out, and restored to its accustomed place, and the loaded waggon was then removed with the utmost ease.

Mr. W. Andrews, F.R. Hist. Soc., in a small pamphlet on "Skull Superstions speaking of the skull, says, "It had been kept in the house from time out of count," but the worthy baronet felt it ought not to remain in the hall, so, some years ago, it was interred in the garden. But all went wrong; no rest could be obtained in the place after the removal of the skull; so it was brought back into the hall, and placed in a cupboard, and walled in. We learn that all went well after it had been placed in its old abode. No longer did the servants hear the dismal cries by night, nor did accidents take place by day."

The Boyntons, owners of the hall and lordship, were originally settled at Boynton - or, in its earlier and uncorrupted form, Bovington - from which they took their name. Bartholomew de Bovington was possessed of lands at Boynton soon after the Conquest, but whether he was a follower of the Conqueror who had received a grant of the manor, or a descendant of the old Saxon owners, who had been permitted to retain his patrimony, is not known. Subsequently they obtained possession of Barmston, where they resided for about two centuries. This lordship was acquired by marriage with Margaret, daughter and co-heir of Sir Martin de la See, Knt., of Barmston, sometime in the 15th century; and two centuries later another marriage with an heiress brought them the manor and estate of Burton Agnes, whither they removed their residence in the 17th century. The various pedigrees of the family differ considerably, and present so many discrepancies, that any attempt to reconcile them would result in failure. In mediaevel times they held knightly rank, and fought in several battles between the Houses of York and Lancaster. Sir Henry was a warrior of repute, and was created a knight-banneret by the Earl of Surrey for his valour. His son and heir, Matthew, was appointed steward of the house and lands of the dissolved abbey of St. Mary, York, and of the lordship of Bridlington Priory. He married Anne Bulmer of Wilton, whose father, Sir John, was executed at Tyburn for his participation in the Pilgrimage of Grace; and her mother, Lady Bulmer, was, for the same offence, burnt to death at Smithfield. Sir Thomas Boynton, their son, and Sir Francis, their grandson, were high sheriffs of Yorkshire, the former in 1676-7, and the latter in 1696-7.

Sir Matthew, the third and eldest surviving son of Sir Francis, succeeded to the estates, and was created a baronet by James I. in 1618. He married Frances, sister and co-heir of Sir Henry Griffith, through which marriage Burton Agnes came to the Boyntons. Sir Matthew represented the borough of Hedon-in-Holderness, in the parliaments of 1628 and 1643, and Scarborough in 1646. He was twice high sheriff of Yorkshire, and in the war between Charles I. and the Parliament he became an active partisan of the latter. He commanded a troop of horse, and was present in several battles and skirmishes. Scarborough Castle, which had been stoutly defended for twelve months by a Royalist garrison under the brave Sir Hugh Cholmondley, capitulated to him after the garrison had been reduced to the last stage of emaciation. Sir Matthew assumed the governorship of the castle, and hoisted the Parliamentarian flag. His third son was a colonel in the republican army, and played a more conspicuous part than his father. Sir John Hotham, his uncle, had been appointed governor of Hull by the Parliament, but was aftewards detected holding secret correspondence with the Royalists. Orders were issued for his arrest, but Sir John quitted the town secretly, with the intention of escaping to his house at Scorborough, near Beverley, which he proposed to fortify for the king. But the news of his treachery had preceded him, and, whilst passing through the streets of Beverley, he was arrested by Colonel Boynton. Sir John, seeing an open lane before him, snatched the bridle from his hand, and galloped at full speed. He had not, however, proceeded far when he was brought to the ground by a blow from the butt of a soldier's musket, recaptured, and conveyed to London, where he and his son were executed.

Colonel Boynton succeeded his father as governor of Scarborough Castle in 1647, but he soon afterwards followed the example of his uncle, and returned to his allegiance to his sovereign. Scarborough Castle was retaken for the Parliament by Colonel Bethell; and, the whilom governor escaping, was afterwards slain, fighting for his king at Wigan, in 1661. Sir Matthew, his father, married (secondly) Katherine, daughter of Thomas, first Baron Fairfax, but left surviving issue by the first wife only.

Sir Francis, his eldest son, who succeeded to the baronetcy, married Contance, daughter of Viscount Say and Sele, by whom he had four sons and two daughters. William, the eldest, pre-deceased his father, leaving, by his wife, Elizabeth, daughter and co-heiress of Edmund Barnard, of Hull, a son, Griffith, who succeeded as third baronet. This gentleman was twice married, but leaving at his death no surviving issue, the title and estates devolved upon his cousin, Sir Francis, son of the Rev. Henry Boynton, rector of Barmston. Sir Francis was recorder of Beverley and M.P. for Hedon, 1734. He married Frances, daughter of James Hebblethwaite, Esq., of Norton, and at his death was succeeded by Sir Griffith, his eldest surviving son. He was bred to the law, and was admitted at Gray's Inn in 1731. In 1726, he founded almshouses at Barmston for four poor men, and gave an estate at Ottringham, worth £800 per annum, to his younger brother. By his wife Anne, daughter of Thomas White, Esq., of Wallingwells, Nottingham, he had an only son, Sir Griffith, who was M.P. for Beverley, 1772-74. He was twice married: his first wife was Charlotte, daughter of Francis Topham, LL.D., by whom there was no issue, and the second wife was Mary, daughter of James Hebblethwaite, Esq., who bore him three sons, Griffith, Francis, and Henry.

Sir Griffith the eldest, seventh Baronet, married Anne, daughter of Captain Robert Parkhurst, but died without issue in 1801. Sir Francis, his brother, sueceeded as eighth Baronet, and died unmarried in 1832, when the title and estates devolved on the third brother, Sir Henry. This gentleman married Mary, daughter of Captain Grey, by whom he had four sons and seven daughters. He died in 1864, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir Henry, who was killed by a fall from his horse in 1869. He married first Louisa, daughter of Walter Strickland, Esq., of Cokethorpe Park, Oxfordshire, and secondly Harriet, daughter of Thomas Lightfoot, Esq., of Sevenoaks, Kent, by whom only he had issue, Sir Henry Somerville, the present Baronet, and Catherine Maude.

GRANSMOOR township comprises 1,346 acres of land belonging chiefly to W. H. T. Duesbery, Esq., who is also lord of the manor. The rateable value is £1,411, and population 68. The manor was anciently held by the St. Quintins, and the Prior of Bridlington had also half a carucate of land in the township.

The village is small and stands about 2½ miles south of Burton Agnes. The late W. D. T. Duesbery erected a chapel-of-ease here in 1839. It is a small edifice of brick, capable of accommodating 100 persons. A chantry chapel was founded here in 1361 by Walter de Harpham, vicar of Gillings, for the salvation of his own soul, and the souls of Sir William de St. Quintin, Dame Johana his wife, Sir Marmaduke Lumley, Knight, Thomas de Thweng, and others. He endowed it with land and messuages in the townships of Gransmoor, Harpham, and Thornholme, for the support of a chaplain to celebrate mass and other divine offices.

HAISTHORPE is a township in this parish. It contains 1,390 acres of land and 121 inhabitants. Its rateable value is £1,972. Sir Henry Somerville Boynton, Bart., is lord of the manor and principal landowner. The village is situated about 2½ miles north-east of Burton Agnes. In Domesday Book its name is written Aschiltorp, of which Haisthorpe is a corruption. Askil was a personal name among the Norsemen, and occurs eight times in Domesday Book, as a landowner in Yorkshire. Haisthorpe Lodge, a modern mansion of brick, is the seat of Miss Boynton, only daughter of Captain George Henry Lutton Boynton, fourth son of the late Sir Henry Boynton, Bart. The Primitive Methodists have a small chapel in the village, built in 1888, at a cost of £150.

THORNHOLME is another township in this parish. Its area is 1,346 acres, rateable value £1,617, and population 115. William Herbert St. Quintin, Esq., of Scampston Hall, is lord of the manor and owner of all the land. The hamlet is small and stands about one mile north-east of Burton Agnes. It was written by the Norman scribes in Domesday Record, Thirnon and Tirnum, from which it would appear that the final syllable of the modern name should be ham rather the holme. The latter signifies an island, or low lying land environed by a river but it is scarcely probable that this place was ever so situated within the range of recorded history.

[Description(s) from Bulmer's History and Directory of East Yorkshire (1892)]


  • Transcript of the entry for the Post Office, professions and trades in Bulmer's Directory of 1892.

Scan, OCR and html by Colin Hinson. Checking and correction by Peter Nelson.